My daughter Aidan is 14. She is an amazing young woman who has faced so much more than most children— for that matter, more than many adults have faced in a lifetime. This beautiful young girl has been through a divorce, a move, being a big sister to four siblings, a little sister to one, and she lost someone she loved to breast cancer.
Nana has been on all of our minds the past few weeks as the anniversary of her death comes around. She was such a huge part of our everyday life, and after a brief battle with breast cancer died at the age of 54. Grieving is a process full of twists and turns. Even though it has been over a year, I am still learning that every day, just when you think you are okay, life has a funny way of throwing you a curve ball and the grief that you thought was gone comes rushing back in. Yesterday afternoon, the door slammed shut and I heard footsteps thumping up the stairs. I heard Aidan yell out my name, and I met her at the top of the stairs. She looked radiant … happy … her green eyes full of life, excitement, and tears. “Mom, I have to talk to you,” she said excitedly. I thought to myself, Okay here we go … first boy crush time. Her older sister Loughlin and I sat on the bed, gearing up for what was to come. “Mommy, I saw Nana last night,” she said. “Mommy she was here, we talked … it was Nana … I saw her!!!!” Her eyes lit up and welled up with tears. “Mommy, she told me I had to be nice to you” — which led to smiles because the night before, I had to take her phone away for being disrespectful.In my heart, I know that it was Nana. I cannot begin to tell you … my child was so full of life and hope — a spark that had been missing since Nana died. Aidan went on, “Mommy, she said we are going to be okay, things are going to get better soon, and we are going to get a new house one that is ours. She was with me, she had her bandanna on, you know the one she used to wear when her hair fell out, and her purple shirt. Mommy, it was Nana.” I couldn’t stop my own tears.My child was back — there was no grief, the sadness was gone, such happiness radiated from her. Nana did come. A little bit later, I took the younger children to run some errands. When we came home, we stood at the front door and listened. Inside the house, for the first time in a long time, we heard singing. Loud, happy, joyful, off-key singing. My sweet little girl was singing Nana’s favorite song. I stood there for a second and just listened. The little ones giggled, and Moira piped up and said, “I haven’t heard her sing in a long time.”As I tucked her into bed, she was still so happy, she snuggled under her covers and said, “I can’t wait to fall asleep. Maybe Nana will come back so we can talk some more.” Oh, my love, how much my heart aches that we lost her, how much I wish I could bring her back and take your pain away, and how much I hope she comes to see you every night in your dreams.